Putting aside all of the negative criticism, it wasn’t that bad a flick. Was it really good? No. Was it the worst movie ever? Not even close. However, this American taken on a medieval feudal Japan legend about the 47 Ronin who avenged their master’s death was at the very least entertaining. Kai (Keanu Reeves) is a lowly servant in the benevolent Lord Asano’s (the legendary Min Tanaka) kingdom. In a plot to overtake his kingdom, Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) and his Witch (Rinko Kikuchi) plot a coupe when the Shogun visits Asano’s land. Kia becomes involved in a desperate mission to rescue his forbidden love, Mika (Ko Shibasaki), with the aid of Oishi (the ever enjoyable Hiroyuki Sanada), the Ronin leader, and his 46 Ronin.
This fanciful and mystical ridden story isn’t without its faults. For starters, while Kai is sort of condemned and ridiculed for his status and his “half-breed” lineage, they make it very clear he’s “special” and is loathe for his difference. However, even when they reveal why he’s special, well – it’s really not THAT special. So there’s this scatter shot attempt at character development that really doesn’t pay off. Again, great special effects, but bad writing. Also, the story in general is kind of “on the numbers”. There’s nothing really that special about the story other than the actual historical events it was pulled from. A better movie on this subject is Chushingura (1962) and is possibly more faithful to the ideals represented. The upside is that it’s not totally about Kai’s character and there are some really good moments with Oishi and his men that sort of make up for the lack in the movie itself.
Again, this is not a great movie in any sense, but it won’t put you to sleep and you may find aspects of it to enjoy as well. I’m not recommending the movie, but I’m also not saying you’ll be completely wasting your time.